The Reactor is CMG's first foray into the illuminating power of the relatively new Luxeon Star LED; a large junction device from Lumileds that can outshine a dozen regular LEDs!
The flashlight features an anodized aluminum body, a polycarbonate head, and is tailored to work its best on L91 type lithium AA batteries; though it will work fine on ordinary 99¢ Kirkland alkalines.
The jet-black Reactor, like many black flashlights, defies being photographed properly.
To use the Reactor, first load 'er up. Then, turn the large head in either direction until you feel it click into place. This turns the Reactor on. Turn the head some more and it will go off. There is no detent position for "off", so if you need to be sure it's in the full off position, look at the business end of the flashlight, and turn the head until the window of the Reactor comes as close to the Luxeon LED inside as it gets. Let me clarify this a bit: when you turn the head on the flashlight, you'll see the optic of the Luxeon Star LED "piston" up and down as the head is turned. When the LED has moved to its uppermost position, that's the center of the "off" position.
A detent for both on *and* off would have made more sense, but for now, just use your eyes.
To change the Reactor's batteries, just unscrew the tailcap, dump out the used batteries, and put two new ones in with the button-end going in first. Then screw the tailcap firmly back on.
For increased brightness, it is highly recommended that you use lithium AA cells; such as Energizer L91 (red and gold battery) or Energizer e2 Lithium (silver and blue battery).
When alkaline (Duracell) batteries were tested in the Reactor, the unit drew 142 milliamps; when Energizer e2 lithiums were tested, the Reactor drew 302 milliamps.
Ok, so maybe the Reactor isn't quite up to Surefire or Streamlight standards, but then again, this is the *ONLY* Luxeon based flashlight you're going to find for $25 or under. So you've got to give CMG credit for introducing Luxeon Star large junction LED technology at a price almost everybody can afford.
The Reactor has an anodized aluminum barrel with great knurling on it. The barrel is similar in diameter to the well-known Infinity; but is somewhat longer. A good sized eyelet is present in the tailcap to affix your favorite lanyard or ring to the flashlight.
The head is composed of a durable polycarbonate material with a metal ring right at the tip, protecting the unit from breakage when dropped face-first.
A series of deep ribs is present at the base of the head to aid in gripping & turning it. The head is large enough to grasp it with your whole hand and turn it as well. The action has a slightly stiff feel, but not oppressively so. Turning the light on and off with gloves on should present no major problems.
The Reactor is stated as being water resistant, but not submersible. A suction and pressure test confirmed this: air flows through the flashlight when the barrel is lightly sucked on or blown into. So it is possible to drown the Reactor in the toilet, but it would take at least a few minutes before any substantial amount of water actually got inside. If you drop your Reactor in a puddle or stream, you do have time to fish it out with no harm done. Just don't leave it at the bottom for any length of time, and for heaven sakes, please don't use it as a dive light.
The switching mechanism of the Reactor is a little unusual. You twist the head in either direction until it clicks into the "on" position, and turn it halfway between any "on" stop to get it to shut off. I don't understand why there is no detent for the "off" position. The head rotates freely between the "on" detents. For a light that's meant to go in a bag, the possibility of it going off in that bag during transport is more than minimal. If I were to take the Reactor camping and store it in a camping bag en route, I might want to remove the batteries to eliminate this possibility. I would also encourage CMG to redesign the switching mechanism to include an "off" detent position. I know their engineers will quickly find and read this page, so I hope this is an upgrade you will consider for the Reactor. I would like to see what the Reactor is *SUPPOSED* to look like with the correct white Luxeon in it (a newer version or a hand-picked sample); from that I'll be able to base my final rating. Otherwise, expect the Reactor to be short one star or so for the horrible color. :(
Measured 113cd on alkalines, 137cd on lithiums.
The beam of the Reactor has that distinct, "rotten porpoise urine green" coloration that seems to be plagueing a lot of Lumileds products as of late. This is not explicitly the fault of CMG; but is a quality control issue at Lumileds, the makers of the Luxeon Star LED emitter. Some Reactors have been reported to have a more pure white light; while others have this yellow-green tint. What tint your Reactor will have is pretty much the luck of the draw.
Spectrometer plot of the LED in this flashlight (the version with the pee-green tint). Ocean Optics USB2000 Spectrometer on loan from TWO-CUBED.
Beam cross-sectional analysis. Image made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.
CMG is redesigning the switch to include detent positions for both "on" and "off". Lamp color is also being worked on. When these new units are ready, I will be re-writing this review based on the improved model, not the one I have now.
I've been seeing scattered reports that the switch doesn't work 100% of the time - that you sometimes need to "shake and whack" the Reactor to get it to go on. This has NOT happened to my test samples, so I have no way to verify or re-create the alleged malfunction, but it's something you should probably watch for in yours.
CMG has a very good return policy, so if this happens to your Reactor, by all means send it back to get it fixed or replaced.
Late last summer, I received both a Reactor that had the switch fix I suggested, and a Reactor-3 that uses three alkaline AA cells instead of two lithium AA cells. As most of you know, I was "indisposed" most of all last autumn and part of last winter, so I apologise for the tardiness with regards to getting this on my website. I don't know where my Reactor-3 is right this moment, so I can't take pictures of it for this website just yet.
Reactor-2 with Energizer L91 lithium AA cells in it.
Measures 160,000mcd on a Meterman LM631 light meter.
It has the same lithium AA cells in it that it did last year. But now that I'll be using it more, I expect to go through this set and a few more before all is said and done.
Any updates related to this review will be posted as they happen.
Feels good in the hand
Excellent brightness when compared to multi-5mm LED lights
Great warranty coverage
Some people have said the switch *can* flicker
Not entirely waterproof - should be fine for bad weather however
MANUFACTURER: CMG Equipment
PRODUCT TYPE: Luxeon-based AA flashlight
LAMP TYPE: Luxeon Star /O, white
No. OF LAMPS: 1
BEAM TYPE: Central bright area fading smoothly to extinction at edges
SWITCH TYPE: Twist bezel with detent for "on" position
BEZEL: Clear window protects LS collimator below. Deep ribbing at base of bezel.
BATTERY: 2x AA cells
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 142mA w/alkalines; 302mA w/lithiums
WATER RESISTANT: Yes - rain resistant at minimum
WARRANTY: Limited Lifetime
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